Sunday, August 17, 2014

In Favor of Kids and Their Cochlear Implants

The tax warriors are at it again, and this time it’s personal. We have an eight-year-old daughter who was born deaf and has two cochlear implants which allow her to hear. The reason she has these implants and the necessary technical support that goes with them is that we have fought, fought, fought our insurance providers over their attempts to classify cochlear implants as “hearing aids” and therefore not medically-necessary and therefore none of their concern. They are, of course, correct. Health insurance providers are concerned with making maximum profits, not with childrens’ health. Duh. But that’s the system that’s been forced on us and our kids and trying to wriggle out of their ethical responsibility to cover cochlear implants (a relatively new technology to Pleistocene-era insurance executives who have a tendency towards cannabalism) has been common-scheme robbery for them for a couple decades.

Now it appears that Medicare and Medicaid bureaucrats are feeling the political clout of this hopefully-soon-to-be-extinct species, executes mafiosus, and are giving this sham a try themselves. “In Order To Save Money” (makes you want to kneel down a pray just thinking about it, doesn’t it?) This proposed rule change, to declare certain cochlear implants “medically unnecessary”, would make this technology that should be as universally accessable as cell phones virtually inaccessible to most deaf and hard of hearing kids who depend on Medicare and Medicaid for their healthcare needs.

Yes, I’m overreacting, and no, I don’t have all the factoids right at the tip of my brain ready to do battle with some corporate shill. But anger is a legitimate response to the barrage of crap these bastards keep throwing at us in the name of “austerity for the poor” and below’s all you need to effectively broadside them with your public comment about how they spend your public dollars! A relatively-technical but far-reaching issue like this probably doesn’t get too much response from an unaware public, so even a handful of aware responses could make a difference. My goal is to generate ten.

Please take a minute and visit helpnowhearalways.com and use their link CMS' comment site and ask CMS to reject rule change #CMS-1640-P. Pass it on.

My Comments to the Center for Medicaire/Medicaid Services (CMS)
“Regarding CMS-1640-P: My eight-year-old daughter has two cochlear implants and, because of that, can hear. We had to fight, fight, fight with our (various) insurance providers to force them to admit that cochlear implants are not superficial "hearing aids" and therefore not in need of their coverage. I see this proposed rule-change as yet another example of the heartless heavy hand of a soulless industry that should have been banished in 2009 in favor of Medicare-for-all/ Universal coverage, a solution to this despicable healthcare train wreck we suffer under that a large majority of American taxpayers still favor. If you adopt this rule-change, our daughter will suffer, we will suffer and thousands of kids born deaf will never get the chance to hear because their parents simply can't afford this readily-available technology.

As always, the "tax warriors" who wish to impose restrictions like these on citizens favor political expediency over reality and I, as the parent of a deaf child, am getting heartily sick of it! If taxpayers are the only concern in this rule change, as it must be because the kids sure aren't, please consider how much more money it's going to cost to keep thousands of lower-income kids deaf.

Medicare and Medicaid managers: Do your jobs! Quit wasting time and resources with this political pandering to the Crazy Right. Why are you forcing parents like us , who clearly have enough on our plates due to all the local tax-warrioring in our school districts that provide little to no services to our child in order to "save money", to even comment on this nonsense. It's a no-brainer. You work for us and you owe it to the kids to reject this see-through rule change.”


5 comments:

  1. As someone who has friends who are hearing impaired this angered me, so I checked out the proposed regulation. (https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/07/11/2014-15840/medicare-program-end-stage-renal-disease-prospective-payment-system-quality-incentive-program-and#h-27)
    The good news is that it does prevent coverage of cochlear implants which are considered prosthetics. It states: Devices not subject to the hearing aid exclusion. Cochlear implants and auditory brainstem implants that replace the function of cochlear structures or auditory nerve and provide electrical energy to auditory nerve fibers and other neural tissue via implanted electrode arrays. These devices produce the perception of sound and do not meet the definition of hearing aid.
    What is not covered is Baha (bone anchored hearing aids) which are currently excluded because it has been decided that they do not fall under the statutory definition of a prosthetic- basically replacing an organ.
    “prosthetic devices (other than dental) which replace all or part of an internal body organ (including colostomy bags and supplies directly related to colostomy care), including replacement of such devices, and including one pair of conventional eyeglasses or contact lenses furnished subsequent to each cataract surgery with insertion of an intraocular lens;” http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/ssact/title18/1861.htm
    For more information on Baha go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bone-anchored_hearing_aid
    I hope this information will help people as they compose their comments.

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  2. Thank you for the information. If I may presume to correct a typo of yours that may confuse folks: "...The good news is that it does NOT prevent coverage of cochlear implants which are considered prosthetics..."

    I hadn't read thru all that, I just passed on an email alert, and I admit to shooting from the hip in anger and frustration, which I still think is appropriate. It still looks to me like they're trying to nickel and dime us out of our basic human rights. I'm still livid.

    But I do stand corrected. Thanks.

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  3. Thanks for the correction. What I don't understand is why hearing aids in general are not covered. There are a lot of people who need them and they are not cheep.

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  4. It's precisely because insurance companies--and to a larger and larger degree--Medicaid and Medicare simply don't want to pay for them. It's a semantic loophole for them to shirk their responsibility through. Seniors get this runaround all the time when it's time to get a hearing aid. Many older folks are walking around hearing half of what's going on around them simply because they can't afford the audiologist, the hearing aids or both. Or they get one, lose the little bitty thing, and then can't afford to replace it.
    Medicare for All! Or Single Payer or Universal Health Care or Socialized medicine! Whatever you want to call it, it's the only way out of this Byzantian, medieval, heartless system. I'm not overstating, but maybe I misspelled. I should check my Funk and Wagnalls but I'm too tired. Peace.

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